University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Ace those finals with these tips

Graduate assistant Purvi Parmar, who helps students in the TRIO Student Support Services, shares advice on how to ace those finals.

All students want to say so long to the fall semester by acing their finals. Purvi Parmar (currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information Quality), a graduate assistant in TRIO Student Support Services, organizes workshops for study skills and tutors SSS students. Here she shares some helpful study tips for finals. Don’t forget about the extended library hours this week, either.

Following these tips and strategies can help students increase their understanding and enhance their test performance. So read on and pass that final like a PRO!

Right Approach – Better Start: If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.

Whether you study better with a group or prefer to be alone, studying for a final exam can make a huge difference on your final grades. It can be very stressful. However, if you know how to study in a correct way, you can make better grades without applying too much pain and effort, raising your GPA in the process.

Keep up with the POSSE plan (POSSE stands for Plan, Organize, Study, Schedule, and Evaluate):

PLAN your study

  • Know your syllabus (What does it say?)
  • Know your subjects/materials
  • Know your test very well
  • Know your instructor and classmates – look for group study
  • Know your final – exam, research paper, project, or quiz
  • Know yourself (e.g. particular strength and/or weakness, most effective study time for you or awakening time for your brain chemistry).

ORGANIZE your studying strategy

The earlier you start studying, the better organized you will be. Cramming may work occasionally but, during finals, rushing your study material can be unfavorable to retaining information. Start reading or writing early to better grasp a deeper understanding of your subject. Go to class regularly; gather appropriate material or start collecting notes from the lectures; start working with a tutor; and construct a study plan.

SCHEDULE your study plan in a better way

Take a few minutes to prioritize. Decide which classes will have the most demanding finals, and then give those subjects extra time and study for those finals when you are most alert. Understand the value of time and make it count for your study. Avoid studying for long hours. Always take short breaks during study and reward yourself by watching TV, playing games, or something else relaxing. If you are a “morning person,” then try to schedule study time earlier in the day. And, if you are a “night-owl,” study after dark.

Use the “Break It Down Method” either for scheduling your budgeted time or for strategic study, such as studying only one subject for one hour per chapter.

STUDY at your best

Study with proper concentration and the right mindset. Make study enjoyable and fit in your study environment. Study different subjects alternately. Use some technique for good memory development, like making poems, rhymes or acronyms, mind maps, outlines, stories, or flashcards. Make clear revisions within 48 hours of your reading or study. Be careful about immersing yourself ‘too much’ in subject material.

EVALUATE yourself

Do so by making a self-practice exam and review your past papers (what mistakes you have made?) or imaginatively ask questions like the instructor. Look for an available practice test and create a self-exam environment to practice in order to reduce fear of exams and boost your confidence level. Don’t categorize yourself.

In addition, try to work with your instructor and tutors. If you are struggling to understand or grasp certain concepts, consider studying for your final exam with a tutor.

Eat well and get plenty of rest. Pulling all-nighters is counter-productive and can actually cause grades to suffer. Drink plenty of water to ensure your brain is at its peak so you can concentrate while studying and taking the exam.

Last, but not least, stay away from distractions such as Facebook, Twitter, messaging, chatting, parties and hangouts with friends. Avoid trying to work with a stressful study partner. Put all electronic gadgets away and focus all of your mind power on studying.

Remember, be positive and don’t forget to taste the reward by celebrating a good exam result or your accomplishment of a project. It will reinforce your disciplined study habits and fuel your motion toward success.

POSSE: A Study Plan For Objective Exams. Retrieved Nov. 13, 2013, from, Center for Academic Success:$Content/Study+Strategies+Tips+and+Tools/$FILE/POSSE.pdf

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